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Balancing Act: How does Gravity Affect Balance?

based on 12 ratings
Author: Judee Shipman
Type

Physics

Grade Level

5 & up

Difficulty

Medium

Cost

Minimal

Safety Issues

None

Material Availability

All materials readily available.

Project Time Frame

4-6 weeks

Objective

This project explores the relationship between gravity and balance. The goals of this project are:

  • To conduct experiments in balance.
  • To discover the ways in which we utilize balance.

Materials and Equipment

  • Computer with Internet access
  • Color printer
  • Digital camera
  • Typical office/hobby/craft supplies (paper, pens, poster board, glue, etc.)
  • About a dozen 4-inch metal nails
  • Raw eggs

All materials can be found in your home, at local stores, or on ebay.

Introduction

Gravitational force is the tendency of objects to move toward other (larger) objects. Earth is a very large object, compared to other objects we know, so everything falls toward earth. When an object is supported in such a way that there is equal weight on both sides of the support, the object is said to be balanced.

Research Questions:

  • What gives us our sense of physical balance?
  • What technological inventions rely on physical balance?
  • Why is it easier to balance on a moving bike than on a still bike?

Terms and Concepts to Start Background Research:

  • Angular Momentum
  • Center of Gravity
  • Equilibrioception
  • Vertigo

Experimental Procedure

  • Read overview of relevant topics (see bibliography below and terms listed above)
  • Address all of the above research questions.
  • Search and print out interesting images that depict physical balance. These could be pictures of gymnasts, skaters, sculptures, mobiles, or anything that seems appropriate.
  • Also, take photographs throughout the course of your experiments.
  • Attempt the nail balancing act described in the link below.
  • Practice balancing raw eggs on their ends. It's been said that this can only be done on the first day of Spring. True or false? How many eggs can you balance?
  • Design your own unique balancing experiment (optional).
  • Interpret your findings in a detailed report.
  • Include interesting photos and models in your science fair display.
  • Have an egg-balancing contest for your science fair visitors.

Bibliography

  1. http://mechanicalphysics.suite101.com/article.cfm/why_is_balancing_a_moving_bicycle_easier (Notes on angular momentum)
  2. http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/cg.html (Center of Gravity)
  3. http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/00000083 (Nail balancing act)
  4. Internet searches of your choosing. Search any of the words or terms listed here, or make up your own phrases to search. Click on any results you find interesting. Have fun surfing the net!  

 

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